The politics of structural choice of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation: The theoretical foundations of the design of international environmental institutions
For over a century, states have been crafting international institutions to address a wide range of environmental problems but the effectiveness of these institutions has been limited. Theories of international relations have historically guided research on these institutions, but this scholarship has failed to provide adequate insights into why states have not been able to design effective institutions. This study utilizes an alternative approach, a theory of domestic politics, in particular the positive theory of public bureaucracies, to analyze the design of these institutions. The main thesis of this study is that the design of international environmental institutions reflects efforts of political actors to overcome problems of expertise, political uncertainty, and political compromise while they seek to achieve their policy goals within a particular political arena, rather than efforts by states to rationally pursue mutually beneficial joint gains or a desire of a powerful hegemon to cater to its own self-interest. To test this thesis, this study examines the institutional choices associated with the creation of the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). This research consists of a single case study that draws on multiple sources of qualitative and quantitative data collected from documentation, archival records, interviews, written surveys, and direct observation and analyzed using counterfactuals and process tracing for qualitative data and descriptive statistics for quantitative data. The findings of this research indicate that the positive theory of public bureaucracies has greater explanatory power for the institutional design of the CEC than rival theories, hegemonic stability and functionalist theories. Overall, this research suggests that this theory of domestic politics offers a potentially useful theoretical approach for understanding the institutional design of international institutions.
0616: International law
0616: International relations